‘It’s all about giving’: Food, supplies handed out at South Loop homeless encampment
The Chicago Union of the Homeless, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Auburn Gresham-based New Faith Missionary Baptist Church distributed meals, toiletries and personal protective equipment to the 50-or-so tent city residents.
For about 18 months, Ricardo Bara has called the “Tent City” at Roosevelt Road and Desplaines Street home. And on Christmas Day, he was a busy man.
The 60-year-old, working alongside volunteers from the Chicago Union of the Homeless, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Auburn Gresham-based New Faith Missionary Baptist Church, diligently cleared away trash while setting up tables full of home-cooked meals of barbecued chicken, green beans and red beans and rice.
Volunteers also distributed bottled water, snacks, toiletries and personal protective equipment to the 50-or-so people who live in the encampment just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the South Loop.
“It’s all about giving,” Bara said. “It’s just the right thing to do, to give back.”
Along with supplies, Bara was doling out gratitude to many who came to lend a hand.
“You could’ve been anywhere,” Bara told a man who dropped off donations shortly after noon. “You could’ve been in front of a 50-inch-screen TV with your favorite beverage next to you, but you’re here. You gotta earn your wings every day.”
Cameron Barnes, the national youth director at Rainbow PUSH and associate minister at New Faith Missionary Baptist Church, said the Christmas Day aid was delivered to help remind “Tent City” residents that they were not forgotten.
“There should not be a Tent City in Chicago,” Barnes said “So we are working to do as much as we can when we can so that years from now on Christmas we won’t have to come back to Tent City because there will be no Tent City.”
Barnes also noted that Christmas Day was the 54th anniversary of Rainbow PUSH’s founding.
Nearly 77,000 people in Chicago experienced homelessness in 2018, according to an estimate by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, though that number “is expected to grow in the coming year due to record job losses and an eviction crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.”